Nine Lectures on Bees
by Rudolf Steiner
Lecture 4 – Dornach, December 1, 1923
Lectures for the workmen at the First Goetheanum, unrevised by the speaker
Translator unknown – slightly revised here.
HERR MÜLLER has handed me another number of the “Swiss Bee-keeper's Journal” with an article dealing with the results of certain experiments with honey-cures — (“Our further Experiences with Honey-cures in the Frauenfeld Children's Home, Amden,” by Dr. Paula Emrich. Weeson.) (No III of the “Schweizerische Bienenzeitung” March 1923). (Certain passages from this article were read aloud).
It will be quite interesting, gentlemen, to add today a few remarks on this article. In this Children's Home an attempt was made to give honey treatments to children found to be suffering from some form or other of malnutrition. As described here, the treatment was to dissolve the honey and stir it well into moderately warmed milk, not brought to boiling point but kept just below it. This mixture was given to the children.
Excellent results were thus attained. The author, Dr. Paula Emrich, mentions the satisfactory result that the percentage of red corpuscles in the blood of these children increased to an extraordinarily high degree. For instance, two children were admitted belonging to the same family. On arrival the younger child had only 53% of red blood-corpuscles. On leaving, after a honey-treatment, the percentage had risen to 82%. The elder child had at first 70%, and on leaving this had risen to 78%. In this case there was thus less improvement, but still some improvement.
The elder child had milk only, and benefited by it, but the percentage rose only from 70% to 78%; it was, therefore, not so weak, but did not get stronger in the same proportion.
There are still quite a number of very interesting experiments. As I shall refer to them I should like to ask you to note carefully the ages of the children concerned. If one is to observe the effects of some special substance on a person, it is no use simply to make experiments in the laboratory; one has always first to find out the age of every patient; one must always note the ages in any experiments involving nutrition or healing.
Here we have a boy aged 11; he went through a honey-cure lasting 8 weeks, with the result of a very considerable improvement in his glands. A case of catarrh of the upper parts of the lungs also improved, the red corpuscles — those really significant elements — increasing from 55% to 75%.
Then again we have a boy aged 11. He shows a rise from 50% to 74%. Then a girl aged 11, with a rise from 70% to 88%. The rise is throughout, significant. She then gives the increase in weight also, which shows that the children became stronger. I will not read the further details.
Mention is also made of a girl aged 10, of another of the same age; then a boy aged 13, a girl of 7, a boy aged 11, a boy aged 8, a boy of 12, a boy of 9 and a boy of 7.
The experiments show that children of these ages, roughly the school-age, derive great benefit from a honey-cure.
Now, this doctor tries to discover why the children benefited so remarkably from this treatment with honey. And here, gentlemen, he mentions something very interesting, something which in a most remarkable way condemns what is so largely applied in science today.
For what does science do now-a-days when it tests food-stuffs in respect to their nutritive value? Science analyses certain food-substances to discover how many components of one or another chemical substance are to be found in it.
Now the following happened — a pupil of the famous Bunge, the Professor of Physiology — (you very probably know him by name, he was at one time in Basel) — made experiments in feeding mice with milk. These mice had a good time of it, they thrived extremely well when they were fed on milk. So now he made the experiment in another way. He said: milk consists of casein i.e., cheese-substance, fat, sugar and salts. He said to himself: the mice thrived splendidly on milk; milk consists of casein, fat, sugar and salts; consequently, I shall give some mice casein, fat, sugar and salts. This is exactly what is contained in milk. And behold! when he gave the mice casein, fat, sugar and salts, they died within a few days! They got the same things, but they all died.
You see, gentlemen, the composition of the substance is not the whole matter. Those gentlemen ought to have said to themselves: something else must be in question here. But what did they say? They said: “substance is everything: substance must be everywhere where anything happens.”
Well, yes, but the substances that are there in casein, fat, sugar and salts — well, they do not make milk. So the gentlemen said, evidently there must be a new substance here, in such minute quantities that it cannot be found by chemical analysis. This substance is what people now call “vitamin”. Vita means life; min is connected with “make”; therefore, vitamin “makes life.”
Once, gentlemen, when Heine wanted to mock at something, he said: “There are people who wish, for instance, to explain poverty, the cause of poverty. Well, the simplest way is to say — ‘poverty comes from being Poor!’” One has found another term, but one has not explained anything! I was once in a society where people discussed the question where “comedy” came from. Some of them had arrived at quite interesting ideas as to the source of the “comedy — of what one laughs at. Then however, someone got up and went to the platform in a way that one knew at once — “he has the feeling he has a great deal to say.” So then he brought forward his ideas of “comic” and said: — “The ‘comic’ originates solely from the fact that man possesses a ‘vis-comica.’ ‘Vis’ is force — ‘comica’ is comic. Man has the ‘comic force.’ This is where comedy originates.”
This is just as though one would say in economics: — where does money come from? Money comes from the money-making force. Nothing is explained in this way. Well — in economics one would at once remark that anyone saying that money comes from the money-making force was a queer fellow! But in science people do not notice it when someone asks: where does the life-giving property of milk come from? and then answers: from vitamins! That is the same as saying that poverty comes from being poor! But it is not noticed. People think they have said something wonderful, but in truth nothing at all has been said. And that, you see, is what I should like to call the disturbing element in modern scientific methods. People claim to have something to say; they announce it in gigantic words, and everybody believes what is said. But if this continues further in the history of the world, things will come to a point where everything will dry up and perish. For the world depends on the fact that something can be done, not that things are merely discussed and many words said about them. Words must signify what is there in reality.
And truly, gentlemen, in earlier times a kind of knowledge existed that was directly connected with practise. Today there is a science which no longer knows anything about practical matters. Often it merely spins out words. This has come about naturally, because a new authority has superseded an old authority.
You need only consider how short a time ago it is that we did not have so many journals on special subjects as we have today. Communications which were to be made on various subjects — for instance bee-keeping — were given out at special bee-keepers' meetings. This was still so in my youth. At such a gathering of bee-keepers one could learn how things were being dealt with. One would tell the other what he knew from his own experience, and one felt at once whether a man was merely a wind-bag, or whether he had real practical knowledge, which is a very different matter. When you hear someone speak, you know at once whether he knows something, or whether you can find it all in print somewhere. For printer's ink has come as a new authority in addition to all the rest. If anything is printed people believe there must be something in it!
But there is something further to be considered in this article. This doctor has indeed achieved something of great value with her honey treatments. What she has done in her practical work is really admirable. But when she begins to think it all over on scientific lines, the result is really nil. She says this: “It is much to be desired that these results of our experiments should be made known as widely as possible, and that more honey should be given, especially to the young ... For the moment our communications only give the results of our practical experiences; but we do not doubt that with the further development of the theory of vitamins the pharmacologists and physiologists will give their attention to the problem of the working of honey on the human organism.”
The author also says at the beginning: “I feel obliged to give this account of the effects of honey-cures from the medical point of view. Our good results encourage us to seek their deeper connections, as I am well aware that I am far from having penetrated their innermost nature.”
It is evident from her own words that this doctor is modest enough to admit that the theory of vitamins does not enable her to reach the real heart of the matter.
And now let us consider very exactly the following question. Let us see on what these effects of honey-treatments really rest. You see, these experiments show us something; they show that the effect of honey is an especially strong one, and that further experiments will increasingly show this, not in the case of very young children, but with those who have reached the change of teeth, or even with those who are well beyond it. This is shown by the actual experiments, and it is extremely important to take this into account.
But the experiments indicate something further. They indicate that honey is most effective when one gives it in moderately heated milk. It is this admixture of milk and honey that has such especially favourable results with children. If one went a little further one would discover that honey is important even in the case of the younger children. One must then put only a little honey in the milk — more milk and less honey. With old people it is the honey without any milk that is good. Excellent results can be obtained with really old people if one persuades them to take honey without milk. We must say that milk and honey have very great importance in human life; these experiences make it evident.
You see, the old wisdom, as I have often told you, was not so stupid as modern learning thinks. This old wisdom is sometimes expressed in very simple words, but it was really wise. In the ancient saying: “This is a land where milk and honey flow,” the meaning is that it is a land of health, a country where men can live healthily. Thus, of old, people knew that milk and honey have a tremendously strong relation to human life.
Nature often speaks in a very reasonable way. One observes her utterances if only one takes simple matters sufficiently simply.
If one knows that Nature works with great wisdom, one does not need much proof of the fact that milk is good for little children, for were it not so, honey would flow from the breasts of women and not milk. This would by no means be beyond the sphere of Nature's possibilities, for the plants produce honey and it certainly might be possible that the glands of the female breast secreted honey. One must only take things simply enough. One must not say: — Nature is a bungler, she makes only milk to flow from the woman's breast and not honey, but one must say: Behind this lies the knowledge that for the small child milk above all else is necessary; one can add the honey as the child grows older.
Well, then, surely we should not form such an idea as the above, which is nothing but mere words, and say to ourselves; “poverty comes from being poor; the comical from the vis-comica, and the life-giving power of honey from the vitamin!” One must look for what has reality in this connection.
We will now, gentlemen, gather together some of the things we have long learnt to know from these lectures, for the important thing is that one should always observe things in the right way.
When you go into the mountains you find, just where the rocks are hardest, where so to speak, the very hardest earthly substance pours in — there you find the quartz-crystals. They are very beautiful. You find many kinds of crystals. You will remember I drew these quartz crystals for you; they look like this: — (drawing 1). When they are entire, they are formed below just as they are above, but usually they are not perfect. They come out of the rock; they grow, as it were, out of the rock in the form I have just drawn for you here. What does this signify?
It signifies that the earth permits crystals to grow out of itself which are hexagonal, growing to a point. Within the earth there is thus the power to build up this six-angled form.
As I have so often explained to you, the forces that are within the earth and in the universe, are also in man. The earth in her turn receives this force from the universe; man has it from the earth. Man has the same force within him which, in the earth, drives out the crystal. How is it then within him? Truly, gentlemen, the human body is full of quartz.
Quartz as you find it in the mountains is one of the very hardest of substances, But substances are not everywhere exactly as they present themselves to us here or there. In man there is something quite similar to quartz, but it is in a more fluid form. Why?
Drawing 2 (In the original the down-flowing lines are violet.)
You see, if one observes — and one must really observe in the right way, and with true inner vision — what flows continually from man's head into his limbs (see Drawing 2), and this is most interesting, there streams incessantly downwards from the head what the earth once upon a time caused to flow from within outwards, and which became hard up above there, and settled down as quartz crystals. It streamed out from the interior of the earth. In man it flows from his head through the whole of his body. It is quartz, or silicic acid. But the human body does not permit the quartz to become a crystal. That would indeed be a fine business if we were all to be filled up inside with quartz crystals!
Only to a point where the quartz is about to become hexagonal does man allow it; there he stops it; he does not allow it to go any further. Thus we have only the beginnings of the quartz formation in our body, and then it is arrested; it must come to an end.
Our whole life depends on this — that we are perpetually on the point of forming hexagonal crystals from the head downwards, but we do not permit it actually to come about. These hexagonal crystals always tend to take form in us, but in reality they do not do so. They are interrupted, arrested, and then we have, so to speak, the quartz fluid in the highest possible state of solution within us.
If we had not this quartz-fluid within us we could, for example, eat ever so much sugar and we should never have a sweet taste in our mouth. This tasting of the sugar is brought about by the quartz we have within us, not by its substantiality, but by the will within it to become hexagonal like a crystal. That is what causes it; that is the essential.
You see, in the interior of the earth this crystallising process is continued. Man arrests the silicic acid when it wants to grow spiky up above inside him. The earth allows it to become spiky up above.
But man needs this force, this silicic acid force — i.e., this power to bring forth hexagonal forms — man has need of it.
I imagine that you are not all of you good geometricians. Geometry is not exactly familiar to you all; you could perhaps not straight away draw a quartz crystal or model one in clay. But your body is a very good geometrician, and wants always to be forming such crystals. We are prevented from doing this. All life consists in the holding back of death, and when we can no longer hold death back, we die.
Now let us look at the bees. The bee flies out and gathers nectar. Thus it works upon in its own body and in so doing provides its own life-forces. Further the bee prepares the wax. What does it do with the wax? It makes hexagonal cells. You see, the earth makes hexagonal silicic-acid crystals. The bee makes hexagonal cells, and this is extremely interesting. If I could draw the bees' cells for you — or if you remember Herr Müller showing them to you — then they look just like quartz crystals, only they are hollow. But in their form they are the same.
You see, these cells are hollow (Drawing 3), but what is put in them? The bees' eggs are laid there. Where there is silicic acid in the quartz, here in the cell is a hollow, and there the bee places its eggs. The bee is shaped by the same force that is within the earth and forms the quartz. Here the finely dissolved silicic acid is at work. A force is at work there, though this cannot be physically proved. The nectar works in the body of the bee so that it can shape the wax in a form which man really needs, for man must have those six-cornered spaces within him. Man needs the same thing. Inasmuch as the bee is the creature best able to give form to this hexagonal force, the bee is the creature that everywhere collects that particular food which can best be transformed in the body into this hexagonal force.
You need only eat some honey and you receive an immensely strengthening force. If you are too weak to develop this hexagonal force in yourself which has to pass from the head into the whole body, if you no longer have the power to give the blood sufficient firmness so that this force is always present in it, then honey must intervene — or milk in the case of the child. The child has not yet got this hexagonal force; therefore, it must receive it from what is prepared in the human being as milk.
Now you see, gentlemen, that you can give as much casein, fat, sugar and salts to the mice as you please — and they will die. Why? Because the animal also needs this hexagonally-working force. If one only mixes together chemically casein, fat, sugar, and salts, then the force present in the hexagon is absent. When you give the mice milk then it is there. Only in milk it is not so strongly present that when the milk is turning sour it crystallises hexagonally. If this hexagonally-working force were a little stronger in milk, one could drink sour milk and it would form little silicic-acid crystals on the tongue. This would taste as though the milk were full of tiny little hairs. But it does not go so far, because milk comes from the human or animal body, and there it remains fluid. This is sufficient for the child but not for the grown man. But to become adult is something that already begins in childhood, so we must give the child the more powerfully-working hexagonal force that honey contains.
You see, gentlemen, it is very interesting that when you take milk, even if it comes from the human being, it is still something belonging to the animal-nature in man. In man it is animal. If you take honey, it comes from the plant kingdom — indirectly through the bee. But it comes from the plant world and has a plant nature. If you take silicic acid — quartz — then this has a mineral-nature; it has quite a definite hexagonal form. The wax which is produced within the bee itself through the food which is its nourishment – the wax has received its form; it does not originate it, it receives the form as developed in the hexagonal cell. In milk this form is dissolved again; only a shadow-picture of the hexagonal crystal remains in the milk (see Drawing 4). Thus, one can say that honey is a substance most suitable and health-giving for man.
One might however, be inclined to think that it would be just as good if man were to take some silicic acid instead of honey, for then he would also obtain this hexagonal force. But the silicic acid which has developed as far as the hexagonal form, as far as to evolve this silicic acid form, contains too powerful a crystallising force; it would work much too strongly in man.
Now let us imagine the following. Picture to yourselves some poor child not so fortunate as to be given this honey-cure (as described in the article), at the age of 16 or 17, or at 13 or 14, when it is most suitable. This child has not had this good fortune and the iron-corpuscles in the blood get weaker and weaker.
The percentage in the blood gets less and less. The child grows up, let us say to the age of 30, and has grown up into a weak person. The writer of this article describes this also when she says, “they collapse.” When the person is 30 years of age it may often be a very good thing to give him a honey-treatment, but he is already too much exhausted; he would have to eat so much honey to get any real benefit from it that his digestion would be ruined. Honey teaches us moderation; if you eat too much honey you ruin your stomach.
This rests on quite a simple fact. Honey is sweet; it contains a great deal of sugar. The stomach especially needs acids, and when you put too much sugar into the stomach you hinder the working of the acids. Thus, briefly put, honey must only be eaten in moderate quantities, and when a person is already exhausted at the age of 30, one would have to give him so much honey if a honey-treatment were to help him (and this it would doubtless do), that he would first get bad stomach disturbances and then intestinal troubles. Thus one cannot do this, but one can do something else. One can at first give the person very highly diluted, pulverised quartz, that is, silicic acid as a remedy. When you have given him this highly diluted silicic acid as a medicine for a time, then after a time he will be able to benefit by small quantities of honey. The strongly diluted silicic acid will have called forth in him the power to make use of the hexagonal force, and then a small amount of honey can follow. The silicic acid has prepared the way for the honey.
One might also help a person with whom the content of the blood in regard to hæmoglobin has become exhausted, by adding to the honey, suitable to an adult, some highly diluted silicic acid, and the honey can then take effect. In the case of a child one should give plenty of milk.
You see, it is necessary to know these connections. One might ask: what then is it that works through the honey into man? It is the formative forces of the hexagonal principle. This is within the bees themselves. One can see it in the waxen cells of the comb, and it is this that makes honey so beneficial. It was for this reason that I said just now that it is primarily the force of milk that works in the child, and this can be further enhanced by the addition of honey, whereas in the adult the forces of the honey are more active.
Nevertheless, when a person has grown older this honey force must be strengthened by that of silicic acid, as I told you. Also, a milk and honey cure can be of use because the forces of early childhood still exist in the older person; thus beyond good effects of a honey-cure remain undoubted.
In practise this is well-known, and one should really insist on making these things so clear to people – that the right amount of good honey should be available. On this matter people are very readily deceived. I do not mean this in a bad sense; I might say people are easily mislead by the conditions of present day civilisation. If you have ever asked for honey in hotels when travelling, it was certainly not honey that you were given there; it was sugar-honey, artificially produced.
If people realised that this is by no means the same thing, for there can be no question of any hexagonal force being in such honey, they would never claim that imitation-honey could have the same effect as pure bee-honey. One could very well feed mice with pure honey, they would like it very well. But if you were to feed them on this artificial honey they would die, though not perhaps in a few days. I have now added what I wished to say about this article on milk and honey cures.
Now another interesting question has been put to me about which I would like to speak, and also to hear what you yourselves have to say about it; also what Herr Müller has to say to you. You see, there are so many matters to be considered that it will really be worth our while to discuss these things further next time. You will then be able to ask your questions, and Herr Müller or I will answer them.
I want first to touch quite briefly on two other points. They may seem rather strange to you, but I am really eager to know what you will have to say about them.
Among old-fashioned bee-masters there is a conviction that a certain soul-relationship exists between the bee-master and his bees. It is said that when the bee-father dies, then his death must be at once announced to all the bees. If this is not done, then the whole stock will die out in the course of the following year. That a certain relationship of soul does exist between the two is again indicated by the fact that one gets far more stung when one approaches one's work in the hive in an angry or irritable mood, then when one does the same work in a peaceful and harmonious one. Is there any objective reality at the base of this old idea of the bee-masters?
It would be interesting if Herr Müller would tell us quite simply whether he believes such things to be quite in the air or no? Such things are customary among the peasant bee-keepers; they announce a death to the bees. But this soul-relationship, this connection between the bee-father and his bees, is what I now have in mind. Perhaps Herr Müller can tell us more.
Two cases were cited which had occurred in Basel and in Zürich. In one family a woman who had helped a good deal with the bees had died, and in the course of a year all the bees were dead. In the other case, at Basel, it was also a woman who died who had given much care to the bees; the same thing happened. It was a very large apiary; in a year's time twenty-eight stocks were reduced to six. One cannot explain this by anything connected with the general conditions, or with the bees themselves. One could trace no disease that the bees may have had. It may have been a “soul” connection.
Let us remember what I once told you about the relation between man and the animals. You may perhaps have heard (I have spoken of it before), that some time ago people talked a great deal about the so-called “counting” horses, horses which, for instance, were asked the question: “How much is four and five?” Then one counted — 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 — and the horse stamped its foot at nine. Really remarkable and not inconsiderable sums were done in this way — by the horses. You may perhaps have heard of these “Elberfeld counting horses;” they were very celebrated. Whole delegations went to investigate the matter.
I did not myself see these horses, but I saw another horse belonging to Herr von Osten that could count equally well. One could form an exact judgment of the whole matter. People simply racked their brains over these “counting horses,” for it is naturally something fundamentally terrible that horses should suddenly begin to count. Science itself was put to shame by such a thing! Naturally one was quite aware, for it is an obvious conclusion to reach, that a horse cannot count; one had to find out how it was that the horse stamped its foot at a correct number. In reality it cannot count; it would be quite idiotic to think a horse could count. Even a University lecturer knew this who scientifically investigated the matter, but he constructed a theory. He said: “Herr von Osten makes a slight facial movement when he counts; the horse observes the lines in his face, and in response to those it stamps its foot.” But he himself then made the following objection: “Yes,” he said, “but in that case the horse should be standing in front of Herr von Osten, and be looking at him, observing his face so that it knows when to stamp.” So he then took this position himself and saw nothing. Still, he did not give up his theory, he merely said: “The change of face is so minute that I cannot perceive it, but the horse can!”
Well gentlemen, it then follows that a horse can see more than a University lecturer! Nothing else can be inferred!
The matter was naturally otherwise. If one is trained by spiritual science and then observes the facts, one does not then lay much stress on some small facial change, for it happened in this way: there on the one side stood the horse; there stood Herr von Osten, very lightly holding the bridle. In his right hand waistcoat pocket Herr von Osten had plenty of sugar. Now Herr von Osten continuously gave the horse little lumps of sugar. The horse licked them, found them sweet, and loved Herr von Osten very dearly. It loved him ever more and more through these little lumps of sugar, and thus an affectionate relation existed between the horse and Herr von Osten. The latter had no need to make faces, he had merely to think — nine is the correct number; then the horse could sense it, for animals have a most delicate perception for what is going on around them. They sense what is going on inside a man's head even if he indulges in no small grimaces which a horse might be able to see or not. The horse senses what is happening when the brain thinks — nine — and then it stamps. But if the horse had not had any sugar its love would be a little changed into hate, and it would not have stamped with its foot any more.
Thus, you see, the animal has a very delicate perception of things; not of little grimaces, but of things actually not visible; for instance, with the horse, this sensing of what is going on in the brain of Herr von Osten. One has only to observe the facts, and then one knows how wonderful a sensitiveness the animals have.
Just imagine for a moment that you go near a number of bees and are very much afraid of them. The bees will feel this fear in you, that is undeniable. Well, what does it mean when one is afraid? When one is afraid of something or other one grows pale, fear makes people pale. When one turns pale the blood flows inwards, it does not go outwards into the skin. When the bee comes near a person who is afraid, it senses more than it normally does when the blood is in the skin. It senses the hexagonal force of the blood, and stings into it; it would like to get honey or wax from you. On the other hand, when a person works quietly and his blood is flowing evenly in his veins, then the bee senses something quite different.
And now think of a person who is angry, and in his anger he approaches the bees. Anger makes a man red, and a great deal of blood flows into the skin, for the blood would absorb the hexagonal force. This too, the bee senses in its delicate feeling and believes you would deprive it of this force — and it stings you. So fine are the subtle sensibilities of the forces of nature at work here.
And now we come to the question of habit. Think of the bee-father, the bees do not see his approach as men would do, the bee “senses” everything that emanates from him, how all this is constituted. The bees get used to this, and should the bee-father die they must re-adjust themselves, and this means a great deal to them.
And now for a moment think what one finds even with dogs when the master dies. It has been known to happen that the dog will go to the grave and die there, because it cannot adjust itself to a new master. Why should one suppose that the bee with its fine sensitiveness should not be aware of what happens, why should one not think that the bee also, accustomed as it is to the bee-master cannot at once adapt itself to a new one? Indeed something very significant lies at the root of all this.
But you may say: “Is it then the same with these tiny little creatures as with dogs and horses?” Well, perhaps you may not have noticed, but it is nevertheless true, that one finds people who have, as the saying is, a specially lucky hand in the cultivation of plants. Even when they cultivate plants or grow flowers in a pot, everything thrives with them, while another person may take equal care of the plants, but none will thrive; he is not successful. This is due to the “emanations” man has, and which work favourably on the plants in the one case, and unfavourably in the other. It is quite impossible for some people to cultivate plants. They have an unfavourable reaction which affects the forces in the flower that produce nectar, the forces that sweeten the flower. So we can say that man affects the flowers and, in a much more pre-eminent way, the bees.
One need not wonder at this, but one must consider the facts before one as they appear; then one begins to understand that things really are so, and can bring them to bear in practical life.
According to an old peasant rule it is held that if it rains on the third of May, the Day of the Finding of the Holy Cross, the honey is washed out of all the flowers and trees, and there will be no good honey harvest that year. My observations of the last four years seem to confirm that there is some truth in this rule. Is such a thing at all possible?
This question leads us very deeply into the great processes of Nature. You see, it is just this day of the Finding of the Holy Cross, this third of May which is of less importance; it is of much greater importance that it is this season of the year. What does it actually mean when it rains at the beginning of May? It means this. You know that on March 23 the Sun enters the Sign of the Fishes. I have told you before that the spring equinox is now in this Sign of the Fishes. The Sun remains in this Sign till April 20, then it passes on into the Sign of the Ram. Thus the rays of the Sun come at the beginning of May from an entirely different corner of the Universe than at other times.
Suppose now that it is fine weather in the beginning of May — on the third of May — what does this signify? It signifies that on the third of May the Sun has a powerful influence on all that is earthly. Whatever happens on the earth is under the influence of the Sun when the weather is fine.
What then does is mean when it rains on May the third, the beginning of May? It means that the earth has the strongest forces, and hinders the influences of the Sun. This is immensely significant for the whole plant kingdom, for when the rays of the Sun come from the direction of the Ram they can so work that their whole power is directed to the plants. Then the flowers can develop the sweet substance which is present in honey. Then the bees can make honey. When, however, the earth has the greater power, when it rains at this season, the flowers cannot develop in the rays of the Sun which come from the Ram, but must await later events, or maybe even be altogether interrupted in what they have already developed. Then the flowers do not mature the nectar rightly and the bees find none.
A matter such as this only becomes comprehensible when we know that everything that happens on this earth is, as I have repeatedly told you, under the influence of the Cosmos, of all that is outside and beyond the earth. Rain means that the influences of the Sun are chased away. Fair weather means that the Sun forces can unfold in all their power. The question here is not that the power of the Sun comes only in a general way, from where we look up to it, but that it comes from that part of the heavens where the Ram is. The forces of the Sun differ according to the particular corner of the heavens from which they come. This is not due to the Sun alone, but because as the Sun shines down upon the earth, behind it in the Cosmos is the constellation of the Ram. What the Ram gives, the Sun first absorbs and then pours it forth again with its rays. Thus, it is quite different if the Sun sends its rays to the earth at the beginning of May, or at the end of May. In the beginning of May the full force of the Ram is working; by the end of the month the Sun is already in the Sign of the Bull. These forces of the Bull cannot work with the same strength on the plants, they tend to harden and dry up the plant, and this means above all that the plant is no longer able to mature the forces for honey-production.
Thus something has really come to light from these old peasant rules that has sound reason, and one should take note of it. Naturally, as I have previously said, awareness of these things has been lost and we have fallen into superstitions, for when one is no longer able to distinguish things one may easily become superstitious. Then these old peasant rules are of about the same value as the saying: “If the cock crows on the dunghill the weather will change, or will remain as it was before!”
This does not apply however, to all these old rules, for many of them are based on deep wisdom, and this we should once more study. The peasants who have applied these rules have sometimes done very well! A deeper wisdom will also lead us to the point where we can once again make use of them.
Thanks to the Rudolf Steiner Archive
Continued in the next issue of SCR